WINEMAKERS of the Great Southern region are closing in on the arduous task of harvesting their grapes as the picking season comes to an unusually early finish.
With some wineries having already finished their harvest well before the expected end of season in late April, some producers have said this season has been the shortest in recent memory.
Albany’s Wignalls Wines are expecting to finish their harvest by the end of the week.
“So far, the season is looking like an absolute beauty with really good yields,” owner and winemaker Rob Wignall said.
“Our traditionally later varieties have ripened earlier than normal, which is causing our harvest time to be compressed and a lot of pressure put on our storage resources.”
Mr Wignall reported his grapes generally had balanced acids and a slightly higher sugar content; however, with the threat of disease and bunch rot in his crop, Mr Wignall hasn’t wasted time harvesting.
“I would say this has been the shortest and sharpest harvest season we’ve had in our history,” he said.
“It has been exhausting picking in the wee hours of the morning when it’s coolest, but we’re pretty happy overall.”
In the Mount Barker region, Galafrey Wines’ CEO Kim Tyrer said they had completed harvest for all of their white varieties.
“Our yields have been pretty mixed this year, with some varieties doing really well and others not too good,” she said.
“Our season definitely started earlier than last year’s and will be really short, with our red varieties nearly ready to come off the vine.
“I think our vintage will be over quite early. It will be interesting to see if we have anything left after the Easter break.”
“With everything coming off pretty close together we’re getting a lot of pressure on our storage,” she said.
‘It’s coming off thick and fast, that’s for sure.”
Denmark winery Rockcliffe also reported a higher threat of disease this season, with high humidity and the risk of wet weather threatening fungal blooms and mildew.
“Our volume is going to be a bit smaller this year since we’ve had to drop fruit, but I’m confident our quality is there,” Rockcliffe CEO Steve Hall said.
“We’ve had a lot of disease pressure with the weather not being kind to us.
“But we should have all our harvest done by the end of the week.”
In comparison, Porongurup vineyard Zarephath has reported longer ripening times with a slightly longer harvesting time.
Zarephath owner and winemaker Rosie Singer said yields were larger than last year’s season.
Ms Singer attributed the large yield to the late spring and early summer rain last year, which has shown promising fruit for their Pinot Noir.
“The Pinot is doing really well and is always an anticipated wine for us,” she said.
Frankland River’s Alkoomi are also taking longer to harvest their grapes, with owner and vineyard manager Rod Hallett stating that it would still be another three to four weeks until their harvest would be complete.
“We’ve had a pretty awesome season this year,” he said.
“We started a bit earlier this year, but everything is on par with its standard.”
Mr Hallett said the drier weather in Frankland River had spared the vineyard from any issues with disease this year.
“I’m sure other wineries in the Frankland region would be experiencing the same,” he said.
“Frankland is pretty reliable with its weather and its grapes.”